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COVID-19 updates: First vaccine arrives at UW Medicine as state’s ‘Phase 1a’ of distribution begins

UW Medicine demonstrates one of its ultra-cold freezers needed for storing the first vaccine (Image: UW Medicine)

The state’s “1a” phase of distribution has begun after FDA and Western States Pact emergency approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

State officials say they expect to receive 62,400 doses of vaccine this week with the first distribution will go to 17 sites across 13 counties. The first doses of vaccine will go to people in Phase 1a including “high-risk workers in health care settings, high-risk first responders, and patients and staff of long-term care facilities.” State officials estimate around 500,000 people in Washington will be eligible for the vaccine in phase 1a.

CHS looked at thow distribution will work in Seattle as the Pfizer vaccine is followed by at least two other candidate vaccines in what is expected will be weekly shipments starting in January.

This is no time for ditching the masks and social distancing. It will take months for most people to get the vaccine.

“We believe that if everything goes according to plan, we’ll have most people in Washington vaccinated by mid-summer,” Michele Roberts, one of the leaders of the state DOH COVID-19 vaccine planning group, said in a statement Monday. “The rapid development of these vaccines, with such a high rate of efficacy, is a historic achievement, and will help us defeat COVID-19.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose vaccine, given 21 days apart, the state says:

Clinical trial data show the vaccine is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection starting 7 days after the second dose. Individuals will not be considered fully protected until 1 to 2 weeks after they receive the second dose. The clinical trials revealed no major unanticipated adverse events.

In King County and across much of Washington, the winter surge has leveled off but hospitals remain heavily burdened as more people who were sickened weeks ago become seriously ill. The county and the state’s death toll is also climbing. Over the previous week, King County is averaging seven COVID-19-related deaths a day. 650 a day are still becoming sick here and around 30 per day are hospitalized. King County reports that 82% of its hospital beds are now full — above the 80% threshold considered a key mark for health system readiness.

Across the three ZIP Codes covering Capitol Hill and much of the Central District, 17 people have been reported to have died from COVID-19 complications — double the total through August.

The virus has also illustrated the great economic divides in our region as areas of South King County and the northern and southern neighborhoods of Seattle have been much harder hit by the crisis. Capitol Hill, meanwhile, is home to one area of the city relatively unscathed during the most recent spike. In Census tract 64 just east of Volunteer Park, county officials are reporting some of the lowest case rates in Seattle with only 31 positive cases there since just before Thanksgiving — a rate of 9 per 100,000 residents. That tally is lower than even areas with some of the city’s largest gated communities. Many South Seattle neighborhoods, meanwhile, are registering positive case rates more than three times higher than Census tract 64.

Source: Seattle King County Public Health

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